An Edge interview with Paulette Hastings of Neuro Strength
After noted Twin Cities psychic Echo Bodine told me about how Brainwave Optimization had helped her achieve an incredibly invigorating sense of balance again following a mild stroke she had suffered a few years ago, I visited the Neuro Strength offices in Bloomington. What I learned was that a technology has been developed during the past 10 years that not only identifies brainwave imbalances in your brain, but restores optimum brain function through the power of sound.
Paulette Hastings, owner of Neuro Strength, calls it “brain training.” It is based on technology developed by Brain State Technologies in Scottsdale, AZ. The software measures the optimal brainwave levels produced in each lobe of your brain, translates those levels into soundwaves, and then it transfers that optimal soundscape — in real time, as your brain is creating the patterns — back to the brain via headphones with the certainty that your brain will make the optimal pattern it is hearing the dominant pattern in what it is creating. Through hours of repeated sessions in less than two weeks, the intention is that this optimal brainwave level will become how your brain will now operate.
With more than 140 offices internationally, Brain State Technologies has amassed a database of more than 30,000 brainwave assessments — considered the largest database of brainwave readings in the world — and it continually studies how to further refine and perfect its technology to help more people achieve greater harmony in their lives. Mrs. Hastings works alongside of Alina Janssen at Neuro Strength, which has offered such care for people in the Twin Cities area for the past three and a half years.
I recently spoke with Mrs. Hastings at the offices of Neuro Strength.
Please share the basic information about the Brainwave Optimization process.
Paulette Hastings: Our goal here is to promote balance and harmony in the brain. We’re not here to heal or treat or diagnose anyone. We look at the energy that the brain produces. The foundational theory we use is based in quantum physics: Once something can be observed, it changes. In the same way, we look in a mirror and see that our collar needs to be adjusted. We make that observation and we adjust our collar. That’s the same theory as what happens in the brain.
We use an equivalent of EEG equipment, so we use electrodes and we call them sensors. With those sensors, we record the brainwave activity that’s happening in a moment of time. We take only the optimal brainwaves and translate those into soundwaves. We feed those back to a person as tones heard through earphones. It happens in less than a second of turnaround, so in real time the brain can observe that.
There appears to be a recognition by the brain of where these sounds are being produced, and it wants to create more of those optimal sounds. The brain has a sense, or a wisdom, that those are positive for it. We don’t force the brain to do anything. We simply allow it to observe itself. And the brain chooses to make whatever changes it’s going to make.
How is this different than entrainment?
PH: Entrainment is a process in which a specific set of tones are given to everybody. Everybody hears the same thing.
And the body is affected by the tones and changes as a result of them.
PH: Absolutely. And the tones may create a change in every part of the brain. What we do is make it much more specific. It’s specific to one lobe of the brain, and you only hear the tones that your brain is producing, in that moment. It’s very individualized.
We’re not trying to make every brain look the same. Instead of saying we want 20 Hz (cycles per second) to be produced, we want the ratios to be in a nice balance for your brain. For you, a nice balance might be 14 Hz from left to right. For me, it might be 18.
What if my optimal level is 14 Hz, but you gave me 20. Would that great of a shift be harmful?
PH: Our technology cannot do that, because what we’re sending you is what, in real time, what your brain is producing. Our system can only give you what comes immediately from your own brain.
What if some other system was able to give someone 20 Hz when a person’s optimal level is 14?
PH: That would be entrainment, where you force your brain to go into a specific frequency.
What effect would that have, giving us a higher level of frequency than what we are currently at?
PH: I want to be careful how I answer that, because it is so opposite of what we do here. My sense is that, for some people, they would be OK. They might notice a positive shift or no change. But there may be a large portion of people who would have a negative side-effect from that. I don’t know about all of the products that are out there, but we have had a number of clients who have come to us because they did entrainment CDs and had such negative side-effects that they were no longer able to sleep or their focus got so bad they could not function very well.
I like the idea of working with each person individually. Each brain is unique, so we treat it uniquely.
What is the value of us hearing our optimal level of brainwave activity translated into sound if we are producing that optimal level at this time?
PH: You may be only producing that optimal level a little bit, and there are other patterns that are happening a whole lot more than the optimal level. We are trying to bring that optimal level to a more dominant position, essentially, compared to the ones that are less healthy.
I notice on your website that you recommend a certain number of sessions with the Brainwave Optimization. Is that done to secure that optimal level for the brain?
PH: Exactly. We know that if people have just a single session, they likely will feel the effects from it for two to five days. But those patterns cannot stay dominant without being repeated. In a lot of ways, it’s like when you first learn to ride a bike. They don’t know how to push off their bicycle to stay balanced, but kids will get back on and keep trying over and over again. As a kid, we don’t know that we’re creating new patterns, but that’s what we’re doing. It’s that repetition, every day, multiple times a day, that helps those new patterns to become dominant.
For our purposes here, we suggest that people start with 10 sessions done in a very close proximity of time — ideally two sessions per day for five days in a row. Each session is two hours long. It definitely is a time commitment, and not everyone can manage that, but we encourage people to complete the sessions in a two-week time frame. About half of our clients come for 10 sessions and we don’t see them anymore. They feel like they are at a good place. The other half choose to come back, after taking about a month off, to see how they are doing. They may find that those changes are staying with them, but they are not to a place where they want to be with regard to whatever their goals are, such as having less anxiety or eliminating some cravings.
So after 10 sessions your brain does stay at that optimal level?
PH: Yes, it does stay. Now, is it going to be permanent? Not necessarily. We all continue to live our lives and have stressors and traumas that take place. We know that some people will come back after a year and say, “You know, I’ve had a few things happen and I feel like I need a little boost, a reminder of how my brain was when it was balanced.”
What would a typical visit be like for someone coming to your center?
PH: We always start with a 90-minute assessment. We measure what the energy is like in a person’s brain. We have you sit in a very comfortable chair and place five different sensors in different places on your scalp. We take a look at your brain in different states: one minute with your eyes closed, one with your eyes partially open, and a third minute doing a task related to that part of the brain. By doing that, we can see where the energy of your brain is today and determine where there is balance, and where there is less balance.
Once an individual decides to do sessions, each session lasts for two hours. We encourage them to be in very comfortable clothes and they sit in an anti-gravity chair. During those two hours, they will go through between five and eight different exercises. Each of those exercises is selected based on what we see in the assessment. Some are done with your eyes open and some are done with your eyes closed. You will be asked to do a visualization, a relaxation technique or maybe just a breathing exercise. During the entirety of each session, you wear headphones and hear the immediate translation of your brainwaves into soundwaves.
This is a change that really happens in the subconscious brain, not so much the conscious brain. So when people come here, we encourage them to let go of control and just be a part of the process as it takes place. There’s no way for us to say, “I’m going to create a new pattern now in my brain.” We just don’t know how to do that. About 90 percent of all of our responses in life are happening through an automatic response through our subconscious brain. It makes sense that we allow the subconscious brain to make changes here, as well.
Tell me about the study of military veterans and what you’ve discovered so far.
PH: The study of male veterans is ongoing and we’re still looking for more people to participate. As a general statement, we have done tests before they begin their sessions and immediately after they finish their sessions, one month after they complete their sessions and six months after they complete their sessions. We have not come up to the six-month testing yet.
But what we’re seeing on the Beck Depression Inventory and the PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) checklist that the Army uses is that all of those scores from participants have been decreasing, some pretty significantly by about 60 percent. We’re not suggesting that we diagnose either depression or PTSD, but in working with a psychologist who is involved in this study with us, we’re seeing positive trends as far as those numbers go.
[Note: Any male U.S. military veteran who has been in Iraq or Afghanistan is eligible to receive 12 free Brain Optimization sessions from Neuro Strength for participating in the ongoing study. Contact Paulette Hastings at 952.888.0011.]
What is the most astounding thing you have learned while leading Neuro Strength?
PH: That’s a great question! I would say it’s the amazing resilience and plasticity of the brain. We’ve seen some incredible results with people. It reaffirms my belief in the brain’s ability to make changes. When we have clients who tell us that coming here was a life-changing event, that’s pretty powerful.
Can you give us a case study of someone who has been helped by coming to Neuro Strength?
PH: Absolutely. I want to preface this by saying that what one person thinks is life-changing is not necessarily what someone else would. I’m thinking of a woman who was about 40 and battled depression most of her adult life. She had quit her job and was unsure where she wanted to go. She didn’t like looking in the mirror and didn’t want to get out of bed — all those kinds of things that you have with depression. She came in for 10 sessions. During that period of time, she would make little comments like, “I feel pretty today.” That, for her, was huge.
She also had a lot of anxiety that she dealt with. After she completed those 10 sessions, she took a little bit of a break and opted to do 10 more sessions. At the end of the 20 sessions, she was smiling every day that she came in. She started looking for a job, and about a month later, she found a job with a pre-school — exactly the job she wanted, but she was never ready to say she wanted to do something completely different than what she had done before. She had worked in an office. Her level of happiness was much greater. We had a little email exchange about six months after that, and she said she was continuing to feel really positive.
One of the first people to ever come in made a comment to me, and I thought it was amazing. She said, “I noticed that my peripheral vision has increased. I didn’t realize how I had so much of my energy focused so forward because of my need to survive. I didn’t have enough energy before, so I blocked out everything to the side.”
She said, “I was walking along the sidewalk and I saw something move. I turned my head and realized I am seeing leaves blowing around, and I had not seen them for such a long time.” She was feeling much more safe when driving, because she could see what was happening on the side of her on the road. After three years, I have always remembered that.
What can people expect to experience after sessions?
PH: Probably the biggest changes we would anticipate would be that things that you typically would find irritating, now you let them roll off your shoulders. There is just a greater sense of calm. Changes in sleep are likely: more hours of sleep, and a better quality. Sometimes people experience a lot more dreaming. And the third thing I would say is that people notice that they are a little more present, in the moment, versus looking to rush or make a list for the next thing to do. They notice things around them more.
New research shows that the brain’s plasticity, its ability to change and learn, extends throughout one’s life. Tips to learn better:
- Break the learning into small pieces. Four one-hour study sessions are better than one four-hour session.
- Before the sun sets, reinforce what you learned by discussing it, writing about it, doing an assignment related to it.
- Get a good night’s sleep to solidify the memory of what you learned and prepare your brain for more intake the next day.
For more information on Neuro Strength: call 952.888.0011 or visit www.NeuroStrength.com.